What to Order at Chick-fil-A, According to a Registered Dietitian

Love Chick-fil-A? You won’t want to miss this guide to making the healthiest choices at your favorite chicken restaurant.

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
May 20, 2024
May 8, 2024
— Updated:
May 8, 2024

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With over 2,500 locations across the United States, Chick-fil-A has become a popular choice for many looking for quick and convenient dining options. Its presence continues to grow globally, offering its unique take on fast food in several countries. Despite its widespread popularity, some may hesitate to dine at Chick-fil-A due to concerns about its menu offerings, which include ultra-processed foods known for their potential negative health impacts. 

In this article, we'll explore navigating the Chick-fil-A menu from a dietitian's perspective, highlighting healthier options and strategies for making more mindful choices when dining at this fast-food chain.

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6 Foods to Order at Chick-fil-A

1. Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Graphic design of Chick-Fil-A-Grilled Chicken Sandwhich and Average Glucose Spike
  • Calories: 320
  • Fat: 6g
  • Sodium: 800mg
  • Carbs: 41g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugar: 12g
  • Protein: 29g

Benefits: This sandwich is a good source of protein and is lower in calories and fat compared to fried chicken sandwiches. 

Substitute: Consider removing the bun to make the Grilled Chicken Sandwich even healthier and lower the carb count. Omit the BBQ sauce that comes with the sandwich to decrease your glucose spike even more. You can also add extra vegetables like lettuce, tomato, and onion to increase the fiber and nutrient content of the sandwich. Pairing the sandwich with a side salad or fruit cup instead of fries can make it a more balanced meal.

Average Glucose Spike: 32 mg/dL

2. Grilled Chicken Nuggets (8-count)

  • Calories: 140
  • Fat: 3.5g
  • Sodium: 440mg
  • Carbs: 2g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 25g

Benefits: These nuggets are a lower-calorie, high-protein option than classic fried nuggets. They can be a healthier choice for those looking to reduce their calorie intake.

Substitute: For a more balanced meal, pair the nuggets with a side salad or fruit cup instead of fries. Skip the Chick-fil-A sauce for dipping.

Average Glucose Spike: 5 mg/dL

3. Greek Yogurt Parfait

  • Calories: 250
  • Fat: 9g
  • Sodium: 95mg
  • Carbs: 31g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 20g
  • Protein: 12g

Benefits: This parfait provides protein and calcium from Greek yogurt. It can be a healthier choice for breakfast or as a snack.

Substitute: To make the Greek Yogurt Parfait even healthier, consider asking for less or no granola to reduce the calorie and carbohydrate content. You can also add extra berries for more fiber and nutrients.

Average Glucose Spike: 34.4 mg/dl

4. Cobb Salad

graphic design of Chick-Fil-A-Cobb Salad and average glucose spike
  • Calories: 430
  • Fat: 28g
  • Sodium: 1040mg
  • Carbohydrates: 14g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Protein: 32g

Benefits: This Chick-fil-A salad is packed with protein from the grilled chicken and hard-boiled eggs, which can help keep you full and satisfied. It also contains healthy fats from the avocado and cheese and fiber from the vegetables. The salad is relatively low in carbohydrates, making it a good option for those watching their carb intake.

Substitute: You can make the Cobb Salad even healthier by making a few modifications. Consider asking for dressing on the side to control the amount you use, or opt for a lighter dressing such as the Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette. You can also ask for grilled chicken instead of crispy chicken to reduce the calorie and fat content. Additionally, consider skipping the bacon or asking for it on the side to reduce sodium and saturated fat intake.

Average Glucose Spike: 9 mg/dl

5. Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap

  • Calories: 350
  • Fat: 14g
  • Sodium: 950mg
  • Carbs: 30g
  • Fiber: 15g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Protein: 37g

Benefits: This wrap is a good source of protein and fiber, with fewer calories than other menu items. It can be a satisfying and balanced meal choice.

Substitute: To make the Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap even healthier, consider asking for the dressing on the side to control the amount you use. You can also opt for a lighter dressing or skip the cheese to reduce the calorie and fat content. Adding extra vegetables or swapping the wrap for a lettuce wrap can also increase the nutrient content of the wrap.

Average Glucose Spike: 34.6 mg/dl

6. Chick-fil-A Nuggets (8-count)

  • Calories: 260
  • Fat: 12g
  • Sodium: 990mg
  • Carbs: 9g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 29g

Benefits: While not as low in calories as the grilled nuggets, the classic nuggets can still be a protein-rich option if consumed in moderation.

Substitute: If you're looking for a healthier option, consider the Grilled Chicken Nuggets over the classic nuggets. Pair them with a side salad or fruit cup instead of fries for a more balanced meal.

Average Glucose Spike: 27.1 mg/dl

4 Foods to Avoid

Here are some menu items at Chick-fil-A to consider avoiding and why:

1. Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich

graphic design of Chick-Fil-A-Fried Chicken Sandwich and average glucose spike
  • Calories: 420
  • Fat: 18g
  • Sodium: 1460mg
  • Carbs: 41g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 6g
  • Protein: 29g

Average Glucose Spike: 49 mg/dl

While delicious, the classic Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich is deep-fried, which can lead to higher calorie and fat content. Studies have linked regular consumption of fried foods to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and other health issues.1

If this is a favorite item, consider enjoying it occasionally as a treat rather than a regular part of your diet. Skip the Chick-fil-A sauce as it is heavy in fat and calories. Pair it with a side salad or fruit cup instead of fries to balance the meal. 

2. Chick-fil-A Waffle Fries

Graphi design of Chick-Fil-A-Waffle Fries and Average Glucose Spike
  • Serving Size: Medium Fries
  • Calories: 420
  • Fat: 24g
  • Sodium: 340mg
  • Carbs: 45g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Protein: 5g

Average Glucose Spike: 39 mg/dl

These fries are high in calories, fat, and sodium, which can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Regularly consuming fried foods and foods high in sodium have been linked to adverse health effects.2

If you love waffle fries, consider sharing them with a friend or opting for a smaller size. Pair them with grilled chicken and a veggie-packed salad to increase the fiber and protein content in this meal.

3. Chick-fil-A Milkshake

Graphic design of Chick-Fil-A-Vanilla Milkshake and Average Glucose Spike
  • Serving Size: Vanilla Milkshake
  • Calories: 580
  • Fat: 23g
  • Sodium: 390mg
  • Carbs: 82g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 80g
  • Protein: 13g

Average Glucose Spike: 63 mg/dl

While delicious, milkshakes are high in sugar and calories, which can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of developing conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to a variety of health issues.3

If you enjoy milkshakes, consider them an occasional treat rather than a regular indulgence. 

4. Chick-fil-A Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit

Graphic design of Chick-Fil-A-Sausage Egg and Cheese Biscuit and Average Glucose Spike
  • Calories: 620
  • Fat: 42g
  • Sodium: 1510mg
  • Carbs: 38g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Protein: 22g

Average Glucose Spike: 20 mg/dl

This breakfast sandwich is high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium, which can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is known to raise LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease.4

If you crave this item, consider having it as a special treat rather than a regular breakfast option. Balance it with healthier daily choices, such as a salad with grilled chicken for lunch.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href=grilled-chicken-thighs>Grilled Chicken Thighs with Spiced Cauliflower Steaks</a>.</p>

Grilled Chicken Sandwich Copycat Recipe

Craving a Chick-fil-A sandwich but eating on a budget or looking for a homemade swap? Below is a dietitian-approved copycat recipe that is sure to fulfill your cravings and help you stay on track with your health goals.

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 whole wheat hamburger buns

Lettuce leaves

Sliced tomatoes

Sliced red onions

Pickle slices

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Optional: your choice of condiments (mustard, ketchup, mayo, etc.)

Instructions:

1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.

2. Season the chicken breasts with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Grill the chicken breasts for 6-7 minutes per side or until they reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.

4. Toast the hamburger buns on the grill for a minute or two until lightly browned.

5. Assemble your sandwiches by placing a grilled chicken breast on the bottom half of each bun.

6. Top with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle slices.

7. Add your choice of condiments, if desired.

8. Place the top half of the bun on top of the sandwich and serve.

Cooking at home offers numerous benefits for your health and well-being. One major advantage is that you have complete control over your ingredients, ensuring your meals are made with fresh, high-quality ingredients. This allows you to avoid processed foods and additives often found in restaurant meals. Additionally, cooking at home allows you to choose leaner protein sources, such as chicken breast or fish, which can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of heart disease. By cooking at home, you can also control the amount of salt, sugar, and fat in your meals, making them healthier overall. Overall, cooking at home allows you to create nutritious and delicious meals tailored to your tastes and dietary needs.

A Quick Review

Incorporating Chick-fil-A into your weekly routine can be part of a balanced approach to eating that considers both your health goals and enjoyment of food. By making mindful choices and being aware of your nutritional needs, you can enjoy Chick-fil-A's offerings without compromising your overall health. Here are some strategies to help you make healthier choices when dining at Chick-fil-A:

  1. Choose Grilled Over Fried: Opt for grilled chicken sandwiches or nuggets instead of fried options to reduce calories and fat intake.
  2. Watch Portion Sizes: To reduce calorie intake, consider ordering smaller portions, such as a small sandwich or nugget meal, or sharing a larger meal with a friend.
  3. Skip the Fries: Instead of fries, choose a side salad, fruit cup, or Greek yogurt parfait to add more nutrients to your meal.
  4. Limit Sugary Drinks: Choose water, unsweetened tea, or a small diet soda instead of sugary drinks to reduce sugar intake.
  5. Customize Your Order: Ask for modifications to make your meal healthier, such as skipping the cheese, dressing on a salad, or requesting a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.
  6. Consider Frequency: While Chick-fil-A can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, try not to make it a daily habit. Enjoy it occasionally as a treat.

By making mindful choices and balancing your meals, you can include Chick-fil-A in your weekly routine without compromising your health goals.

Learn More About Health Nutrition With Signos

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Discover the impact of your diet, exercise routine, sleep quality, and stress levels on your blood sugar with Signos. Cultivate these positive habits on a daily basis to experience improvements in your overall health, achieve weight loss, and more. Want more? We offer a variety of nutrition and healthy habits content on our blog.

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<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href=anti-diet-movement>Breaking down Diet Culture: The Rise of the Anti-diet Movement</a>.</p>

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References

  1. Gadiraju, T. V., Patel, Y., Gaziano, J. M., & Djoussé, L. (2015). Fried Food Consumption and Cardiovascular Health: A Review of Current Evidence. Nutrients, 7(10), 8424–8430. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7105404
  2. Dong, D., Bilger, M., van Dam, R. M., & Finkelstein, E. A. (2015). Consumption Of Specific Foods And Beverages And Excess Weight Gain Among Children And Adolescents. Health affairs (Project Hope), 34(11), 1940–1948. https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0434
  3. Neelakantan, N., Park, S. H., Chen, G. C., & van Dam, R. M. (2021). Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, weight gain, and risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in Asia: a systematic review. Nutrition reviews, 80(1), 50–67. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuab010
  4. Hooper, L., Martin, N., Jimoh, O. F., Kirk, C., Foster, E., & Abdelhamid, A. S. (2020). Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 5(5), CD011737. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD011737.pub2

About the author

Kristen Carli is the owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness. She graduated from University of Arizona with a BA in psychology and then received a BS in dietetics from Arizona State University.

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